The Latest: France to send more police to Calais

AP News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2015 1:51 PM
The Latest: France to send more police to Calais

DOBOVA, Slovenia (AP) — The latest news as migrants make their way across Europe by the tens of thousands, fleeing war or seeking a better life. All times local:

7:50 p.m.

France's interior minister has announced plans to ramp up the police presence near the Channel Tunnel where thousands of migrants seeking refuge in Britain are living in a camp without water or other basic amenities.

Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference Wednesday that 460 new police will be operational at the site from Thursday, in addition to the 665 who are already present.

Basic rights, and sympathy, are in short supply for the estimated 6,000 migrants around the northern French city of Calais, even though the travelers — many fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere — live in what may be the European Union's biggest and most squalid ghetto.

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6:05 p.m.

A soccer match in Slovenia this weekend has been thrown into doubt because the small nation's police force has been stretched to the limit with Europe's migrant crisis.

Organizers of Saturday's match between top rivals Maribor and Olimija have been told to find another way of providing security for the game in the capital, Ljubljana.

Matches between the two teams are considered high-risk events normally guarded by dozens of riot police to prevent clashes between rival fans.

Slovenian media said Wednesday it's unlikely that host team Olimija will be able to solve the problem in such a short period of time.

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5:10 p.m.

Croatia's foreign minister is encouraged that several EU and Balkan leaders in Brussels will hold a special migrant summit this weekend.

Minister Vesna Pusic said Wednesday "up until now we didn't have anything, we haven't worked together at all." Pusic says "we hope we will come up with some kind of an agreement on coordinating the handling of these people."

A massive influx of migrants has increased tensions in the Balkans, which saw years of war in 1990s. Tense Balkan neighbors have been accusing each other of mishandling the flow of hundreds of thousands of people through the region toward Western Europe.

Pusic says "all countries have the same problem. Rather than quarreling, it's more important that we coordinate our actions."

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4:40 p.m.

Slovenia has asked Austria to open a second entry point for refugees in order to disperse the flow of people through the small Alpine nation.

Interior Ministry official Bostjan Sefic said Wednesday the issue is under discussion at a regional meeting in Vienna, the Austrian capital. Earlier Wednesday some 1,000 asylum-seekers, tired of waiting to cross, rushed into Austria from Slovenia.

Sefic says Slovenian police have been overstretched since the migrants started crossing in Saturday after Hungary closed its border with Croatia. Slovenia has cleared the way for the army to take over some police duties at the border.

Sefic says about 8,000 migrants entered on Tuesday. Tiny Slovenia initially said it would take no more than 2,500 a day.

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4:25 p.m.

The German government is considering using military aircraft to deport rejected asylum applicants.

Germany has seen large numbers of people from several Balkan countries seek asylum this year. They have negligible chances of being accepted and the government wants to ensure that rejected applicants leave quickly so the country can handle huge numbers of Syrians and others with more realistic asylum claims.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday that using civilian planes for deportations is the priority but if there isn't enough capacity authorities are mulling possibly using military planes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says that those who come to Germany only for economic reasons must be told: "You must leave our country, otherwise we won't manage to provide protection for those who need protection."

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3:30 p.m.

On top of Sunday's special migrant summit of several EU and Balkan leaders in Brussels, the European Union will also be organizing an extraordinary meeting of EU justice and interior ministers on Nov. 9.

With cold autumn conditions closing in on the masses of migrants still crossing the Balkans to get into the European Union, pressure has increased for effective action.

Early Wednesday, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker first called for leaders from EU member states Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, as well as non-EU countries Macedonia and Serbia, to attend the migrant summit.

Hours later, the EU presidency further called for justice and interior ministers from all 28 member states to meet on Nov. 9 to better plan and execute Europe's response to the crisis.

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2:40 p.m.

Greek emergency workers have joined a search for 15 people reported missing after a small boat carrying refugees sank in Turkish waters on its way to a Greek island.

The Greek coast guard said two vessels and a helicopter on Wednesday were combing the sea northeast of the island of Samos for the missing migrants. Turkish authorities, who picked up the survivors, were searching in their waters.

Greece is the main entry point for those fleeing violence at home and seeking a better life in the European Union. More than 500,000 people have arrived so far this year on Greece's eastern islands, paying smugglers to ferry them across from nearby Turkey.

The Greek coast guard said Wednesday it rescued 870 refugees over the past 24 hours.

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2:20 p.m.

Police in southern Austria saw a rush of at least 1,000 asylum-seekers enter the country from Slovenia after they became tired of waiting at the two countries' border.

The refugees, most of them men, entered Austria near the village of Spielfeld on Wednesday. Many continued walking north on a smaller road next to the A9 highway to Graz.

Police spokesman Fritz Grundnig said the migrants were at a collection point for registration before being bused to shelters. He said police were blocking entry points to the A9 highway and accompanying the migrants on their march.

Tens of thousands of people fleeing their homelands are on an epic trek through the Balkans to reach Western Europe.

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2:05 p.m.

Cyprus' interior ministry says a total of 114 people, including 28 children and 19 women, were aboard two fishing boats that landed at a British air base on the island's southern coast.

The ministry said fishermen initially spotted the two boats Wednesday morning. All 114 people are now at RAF Akrotiri, where they have been given medical care, food and clothing.

British Bases authorities said Wednesday that a 2003 agreement holds the Cyprus government responsible for such arrivals on two military bases the island hosts.

It also said this incident underlines the need for a comprehensive approach to Europe's migration crisis that would provide humanitarian assistance to Syria and neighboring countries, disrupt trafficking gangs and "address the root causes of instability."

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1:55 p.m.

Germany's foreign minister has warned that new conflicts must not be allowed to emerge between the countries that formerly made up Yugoslavia because of disputes about the handling of Europe's immigration crisis.

In recent months, hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty have been streaming through the western Balkans, which saw a series of wars in the 1990s.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that "we have to make sure, first of all, that the movement of refugees doesn't carry new conflicts into a region where we have worked so hard in recent years to the calm the conflict situation after the dissolution of Yugoslavia."

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10:55 a.m.

Hundreds of migrants have pushed their way into Croatia after spending the night out in the open in freezing cold, waiting to cross from Serbia into the European Union.

Exhausted and chilled, migrants on Wednesday started walking down the muddy border passage and over the corn fields. Croatian police had deployed on the boundary to stop them but then moved away.

U.N. refugee agency officer Francesca Bonelli says around 3,000 migrants were there overnight, including little children, the elderly, people in wheelchairs and many sick and exhausted. Migrants have lit fires and used blankets and tents to warm up.

Bonelli says Croatian police were letting in smaller groups overnight, fueling migrants' fear they might get stuck.

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10:35 a.m.

A fire has broken out at a camp for migrants in Slovenia, with plumes of smoke rising and firefighters rushing to put it out.

It was not clear what caused the fire Wednesday at the camp in Brezice, on Slovenia's border with Croatia, which is housing thousands of migrants, including women and children. Migrants have been lighting fires to warm up in cold fall weather.

Emergency teams were aiding the migrants amid thick smoke spreading through the camp. Slovenian riot police deployed by the camp in full gear to manage the situation. Ambulances also have arrived at the scene.

Some refugee tents have burned. Firefighters are using vehicles with stairs lifted high up to spray the fire with water

More than 20,000 migrants have entered Slovenia since Saturday when the refugee route toward Western Europe switched toward the Alpine nation.

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10:05 a.m.

Dozens of migrants, including women and small children, have crossed a river in the cold of the night while crossing from Croatia to Slovenia on their journey toward Western Europe.

More than 1,000 migrants were dropped at the border by train from Croatia early on Wednesday and directed to cross the frontier on foot. Threading through an unknown area, some groups of migrants found themselves by the Sutla river.

With the temperatures below or around zero (32 Fahrenheit), migrants treaded through the river or swam over, carrying their children and personal belongings. Then they climbed up the muddy river banks to be escorted on by Slovenia's police.

An Iraqi man who identified himself only as Cege says "the river is very cold, up to my head here, the water is very big, for that we decided to come here and water was here." He adds, "we need help, we need dress, we need food, now we are all wet."

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9:15 a.m.

Austrian police say main border crossings used by migrants to come into the country are quiet after a sudden influx of about 4,500 people on Tuesday.

Police say all of those fleeing war and hardship them came from Slovenia, with most of them using the Spielfeld crossing. Most were transported to shelters in various parts of Austria, with only 530 migrants present at that border reception station Wednesday.

The other border reception area, at Bad Radkersburg, is empty.

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8:25 a.m.

Slovenian lawmakers have approved a law formally granting more powers to the army in managing the migrant influx along the border of the small Alpine nation.

Parliament voted 66-5 early on Wednesday to allow the troops to warn, direct and temporarily restrict the movement of persons or engage in crowd control, as police normally do.

The law envisages that the new measures can put in force in an exceptional situation and for three months with the possibility to extend the period.

Slovenian army troops already have been deployed at the border providing logistical support to the police.

Migrants have turned to Slovenia in their bid to reach Western Europe after Hungary closed its borders to the flow on Saturday.

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8:15 a.m.

An official in Cyprus says two boats with approximately 140 people onboard have landed on the shores of a British air base on the island's southern coastline.

British Bases spokesman Kristian Gray told The Associated Press that the two boats came ashore at RAF Akrotiri at daybreak on Wednesday. He said there are children among the passengers, but authorities haven't established where the boats came from.

Gray said there's no information about the passengers' health.

Cyprus' eastern tip is less than 100 miles (160 kms) from Syria's coastline. The island hosts two bases on its southern coast which are considered sovereign British territory.

In the last two months, Cypriot authorities rescued 128 Syrian refugees aboard two boats in separate incidents.